In July 3, 1951 Dr. L.O. Brockman held a meeting with a group to discuss the possibility of forming a museum on the campus of Northern Montana College. Among the topics of discussion at the meeting was, whether members of the community would be willing to donate their collections to a museum. Later in July 1951 Frank Runkel, a businessman in Havre, donated his family’s collection of fossils and other materials to NMC for display.
The Runkel Family collection began in 1923 when Edgar Runkel, the Ford dealer in Havre, found dinosaur bones on the north side of Havre. Additional fossils were added during the construction of Fresno Damn. In the 1930’s, Edgar Runkel collected money from local merchants to purchase Native American materials for the collection.
The first museum at Northern was located in a room in Pershing Hall. Professor L.W. Hagener gradually added to the collection. In late 1953, the collection of Roland Carolino became available for purchase. The Northern Montana Historical Society was formed by members of the community to raise the $2500 needed to purchase the collection for Northern Montana College. The members of the Society each paid dues of $100 each for partial payment of the collection. Two Havre businessmen, W. E. Cowan and Al Lucke took out a note for the remainder.
The collection was display in the cases in the entryway of Cowan Hall for over a year. The items were then placed in storage until the late 1960’s when the Math/Science Building (Hagener Science Center) was built on the campus. The new building included display cabinets in the hallways for the collections. Lou and Toni Hagener, and later Vaughn Rundquist, cared for the collections and gave many school tours.
In 2013 the decision was made to move the Native American Collection from the Hagener Science Center to the Vande Bogart Library. With the financial assistance of many area businesses and community members the Louis & Antoinette Hagener Museum of the Northern Montana Plains Indian opened on May 2, 2014.